AUSTIN, Texas & GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CertifID, a leading wire fraud protection company, today announced new survey data that shows the prevalence and acceleration of seller impersonation fraud attempts against U.S. property owners.
According to an October 2023 survey from CertifID, 54% of real estate professionals reported having experienced at least one seller impersonation fraud attempt within the past six months. Meanwhile, 77% of real estate professionals surveyed claimed to have seen an increase in seller impersonation fraud attempts within the same period.
Seller impersonation fraud, a scam where a fraudster uses publicly available records to impersonate the owner of a vacant or unoccupied property to benefit from the sale, represents a major threat to U.S. property owners.
The U.S. Secret Service issued an advisory earlier in the year on this type of threat. Stephen Dougherty, a financial fraud investigator at the organization, recently shared that "we started seeing these vacant land scams or seller impersonation scams going back to last fall, and it’s been increasing ever since." Dougherty added that the scams are "highly organized. You need people to launder your money. You need people to be doing your research in terms of the properties that [they] want to attack.”
“CertifID started seeing an uptick in seller impersonation fraud attempts towards the end of 2022,” said Tyler Adams, CEO at CertifID. “Those early attempts served as a testing ground for what is now a broader campaign by crime syndicates. The trend will only worsen without the assistance of people, process, and technology to achieve more rigorous identity and ownership checks.”
“REALTORS® play an important role in educating home buyers and sellers. Fraud awareness on risks such as seller impersonation is just one of the areas where we really show our value,” said Jennifer Wauhob, 2023 Vice President of Association Affairs at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). “It takes a team effort to protect the consumer and ensure we are working with people who are who they say they are in a transaction.”
CertifID can be used to prevent seller impersonation, with its software that evaluates more than 150 markers of fraud. In 2023 to date, CertifID has identified 2,239 cases of suspected seller impersonation fraud for existing customers.
CertifID will also offer identity verification as a standalone solution in early 2024. Real estate firms can sign up now for early access to this solution.
CertifID is a leader in wire fraud protection. The company safeguards billions of dollars every month from fraud with advanced software, insurance, and proven recovery services. Trusted by title companies, law firms, lenders, real estate agents, home buyers and sellers, and others, CertifID provides further peace of mind with up to $1M in direct coverage on every wire it protects. Learn more at: www.certifid.com.